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From the moment ABC's Martha Raddatz kicked off the opening question in last night's not-debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan....it was clear. Nothing of substance would be delved into, instead it would be a night of Fox-style gotchas and campaign talking points.
As soon as Raddatz asked her first question about "intelligence failures in Libya", I turned the teevee off. The Village, aka the conventional wisdom-spouting "news" celebrities, make me sick. America does not have presidential or vice-presidential debates. What we have are 90 minute long campaign spots, interspersed with silly, pop-gotcha nonsense questions. It's all oh-so-very-stupid.
The debate transcript is found here.
I'm a liberal, and so I found the best turned phrase last night to be this one from Joe Biden...
"Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad..."
Last night, in between the Foxian-gotchas, Americans heard what the R&R team would do to the social contract government has made with the American people over many decades. Shred it...ever so slowly....until it can fit into Grover Norquist's bathtub and then put out of it's misery.
Speaking of memorable lines...
"....we're saying don't change benefits for people 55 and above."
Which, of course, means that R&R have every intention of 'changing benefits'....whether Medicare or Social Security.....for all Americans now under 55. Why?....
Mr. Ryan...."Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts."
Sorry, Mr. Ab-Master......that simply is not so. Obamacare extended the "solvency" of Medicare until 2024 and Social Security is still in the black, and will remain so, without doing a damn thing, until 2030.
And even if nothing is changed ...at all....Medicare and Social Security would never go "bankrupt." If nothing is done over the next couple decades, benefits would still continue to be covered, only at an 80-85% level of current benefits. Saying that the two most important, and most valued government programs are "bankrupt", or will be going "bankrupt" might play well in Fox country where Tea Party antelope roam....but in the land of reality and arithmetic.....it all just sounds ridiculously childish.
Paul Ryan knows very little about foreign policy....and that's to be expected, he's young and green on a bunch of bigger-picture stuff. But when it comes to domestic spending, taxes, entitlements and the like....Ryan knows exactly who he is representing, and what he's supposed to say.
So, allow me to frame Ryan's economic message from last night.
Paul Ryan (and Mitt Romney) wants Americans to believe that smack-dab in the middle of a national recovery from a $12.8 trillion gutting of American purchasing power, all as a result of the Great Deregulated Bankster Heist of 2008.....that all Americans who are not rich and who had nothing to do with the financial collapse.....must sacrifice. Nay....must be punished.
At a time in America's modern history when tax rates on the rich have never been so low, at a time when income and wealth disparity between hundreds of millions of Americans....and a tiny handful of the Super rich....has never been so great.....NOW is the time to reduce benefits for Social Security and Medicare, now is the time to lower tax rates on the rich even further, now is the time to punish the 47% "takers", now is the time to insure that FEWER Americans have health insurance, now is the time for the rich and powerful to become more rich and more powerful, and now is the time for the rest of us to get what we have coming to us.
The timing of R&R's social contract gutting is one thing, and yes, it's reprehensible. But it's the motivation that disgusts. If the safety net, if the entitlement programs are honored, as they should be, then taxes on the 1% cannot be lowered, the estate tax on the .2% cannot be eliminated. If that's the choice, Republican leaders know which side they are on.....the side of the 1%.
As President Clinton said recently....'it takes a lot of brass' to seek to pin the blame, and thus the punishment, for an epoch financial industry smuck-up on the hundreds of millions of average American citizens who are basically powerless. It also takes shamelessness and a heart of ice.
But make no mistake, that is exactly what Romney and Ryan are trying to sell to Americans this campaign. It's audacious, yes, it's brass-ballsey, yes,.....but it's the same "old, bad ideas" from a couple of supply-side, safety net shredding, conservative goobers who would lie about anything to help secure another windfall for the top 1%.
Don't buy what they're selling. Just slam the door in their faces come November 6th.